ducky doolittle || seeking joy + wellness while surviving cancer

Tag: family

Fear & Happiness

Fear & Happiness

This is my last post before surgery. During surgery, they will be able to stage my cancer and tell us if I need more treatment, like radiation or chemo. But finally, on Friday my treatment will begin. My nerves still hum… it’s been like that […]

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 6

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 6

Surgery happens this Friday. Now there is a low hum of nervousness that constantly resonates out of my chest. It started yesterday and is so real that I can damn near touch it and see it. I wish I could make it stop. The thing that I have been […]

Uterine Cancer: Signs To Look For

Uterine Cancer: Signs To Look For

Uterine cancer is also called endometrial or womb cancer. People don’t talk about it enough… perhaps because it mostly happens to older women? Perhaps because women are not sharing their grief with this diagnosis? But uterine cancer can also happen to younger, body positive, fearless women like me. For example, I have a genetic syndrome. I got this shit younger than most.

Below are the signs that got me into the doctor’s office. Some of them I have had for a long time and did not know they were signs of cancer. (It’s a little like the frog in a pot of hot water analogy. I am the frog. Cancer is the HOT water. I was not dropped into the hot water. I was gently set in a nice pot of warm water. Life slowly turned the heat up on me. I stayed in the pot, blissfully unaware until it was suddenly it was painfully obvious that I am in a pot of hot water!)

I’d love it if I could help a few people get diagnosed a littler earlier and better care for their body.

My signs:

  • Watery blood at the end of my cycle. For me, this started a few years ago. I figured it was because I was perimenopausal. I had no clue this was a sign of an issue.
  • A dramatic increase in monthly bleeding, in both the amount of blood and number of days. I had always had a rather light cycle so this one was obvious to me. This started five months ago. I was on the road for work. I was bleeding a lot. I knew I was becoming anemic from the blood loss. I spoke with my older sister to see if she could give me any insight into the possibility of this being a part of perimenopause. I did the self-remedy of taking iron.
  • Bruising. This one freaked me out. I developed a large black bruise on my tummy. I knew I had not been injured so that was the last sign I could not ignore. I had other little weird bruises on my body too, like on the top of my wrist.

For women who are past menopause, I understand the number one sign of uterine cancer is that they begin to bleed, long after they had originally stopped having their monthly cycle.

I also learned doctors have a good reason to always ask you about family history when it comes to cancer. (Duh! I just never thought to ask why they always ask.)

If you have had close family members who had cancer (especially when they were young) you might want to request a genetic screening. This way you have some understanding of your risks and can be more proactive in your wellness. If you come up positive it means doctors will do actual cancer screenings on your body at a younger age and perhaps with more frequency.

My family history is a little mysterious. My mom died young. Most of the rest of my family is either scattered to the winds or so horribly repressed that they like to pretend they don’t have a body, much less illness, much less share their experience around illness.

My siblings are the exception. We talk. As much as it sucked to tell them there is a genetic issue in our bloodline, it also felt good to give them the information they may need to care for themselves.

So don’t be an ass. Live long and do good. Listen to your body. Talk with your family. Ask your doctor questions. Get screenings when possible.

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 5

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 5

Still managing to keep my head in a good place. I have these passing panicked thoughts about surgery and incisions and losing part of my body to cancer. I am getting pretty good at setting them aside. The mind is a funny thing, you can play honest […]

Things To Look Forward To

Things To Look Forward To

I’m making a list… My brother’s wedding Getting new tattoos with my husband when we get our no evidence of disease report Going back to martial arts Learning how to do aerial yoga Plotting my spring garden (I’m planting/learning to grow more food next year!) New […]

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 4

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 4

I’m doing a little better. I am finding that more peaceful spot inside me where have given in to the fact that life will never be what it was. Things are different now. If I want all the good things life has to offer I must accept the cost. The cost now is that I invite healing professionals into my life. I allow them to touch me. I trust my body, I trust my mind, and I trust them.

Trusting others and allowing them to touch me is no small thing. I have something of a reactive attachment disorder that stems from the neglect and abuse I endured as a child. I was physically abused, I suffered immense medical trauma, I was not touched in positive ways, and I was passed around to different caregivers.

This means that as I grew up I had to learn how to allow people to touch me.  I had to let go of my impulse to injure people who tried to touch me. There are times when my reactions to touch saved my life and there are times today when I still need to talk myself down from what may look to others like irrational behavior.

I don’t think of my natural reactions as a disorder tho. It may feel that way to others, but that just means they have not taken the time to get to know me. Generally, I sum this up by saying I am both instinctually gifted and a little feral.

So yes, I am now looking at healing professionals as teammates and learning to trust them. (Writing this here with mixed intentions, to share with you but also to remind my inner feral self! Ha!)

It has also taken some time to figure how to address the fight inside my body. I have often in my life used the power of my mind to visualize an illness.  I have used my mind to picture the bacteria or pain and talk my body through how to release it and fight it.

Cancer has not been that easy. The mutated cells are also my cells. They are made of me. There are no external invading properties. The flaw exists in my genes. I was having a hard time hating myself or part of me. (Which is kind of awesome, in its own way.)

Then I got a call from the doctor. The CT scan shows there is something on my liver. They don’t know if it is cancer yet. If it is, that’s devastating. It means cancer breached my uterus. If it’s nothing, then no big deal.

A sign that there may be a breach pissed me off. It’s like the mutated cells are bullies, coming after all the healthy cells and organs. And that made it possible for me to visualize this fight. The mutated cells are bullies.

Couple that with having cleared up the mean UTI I was suffering from and the gloves are on. I am fighting bullies, which a very natural thing to do in real life! I don’t hate bullies, I hate their behavior. I want to isolate and remove them from the situation. That is my attitude toward my bully cells.

Ok, enough of my inner blabber.

In other news, I had an MRI yesterday so they could get a good look at my liver. I learned something interesting… A CT scan with IV contrast takes two minutes and destroys my heart. An MRI with IV contrast where I’m stuck in this tightly enclosed tin can for 30 minutes is 1000 times easier for me. The contrast fluid for an MRI does not trigger me. As a crackpot scientist, I found this to be fascinating!

My mother in law is staying with us. She is taking some of the daily tasks off our hands and enduring the emotional labor with us. What a saint. I love her so much. Yesterday she sat at the kitchen table with me and we went over all of the appointments, paperwork, and bureaucratic bullshit together.

We have my medical appointments, insurance junk, my husband has a bunch of care and benefits stuff we are working through at the VA, and we have to get our car registered in NY since we moved here a few months ago. Couple that with my work schedule and I have been swimming. Thank goodness she arrived.

(Photo: Street art of a cat. San Francisco, circa 2007)

Waiting for Treatment / Part 3

Waiting for Treatment / Part 3

Yesterday I completed all the pre-surgical appointments. As soon as we got in the car I called the desk where they are to schedule my surgery. Got the voice mail. Again. Fuck. They may be hating me over there, but I am over it. I […]

What To Do While Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 2

What To Do While Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 2

I am still waiting for my surgery. In the meantime, I do art. I use these beautiful markers that have tips like paint brushes. I have two crochet projects. I catch up on TV show in chunks. Thankfully my husband has a real knack for […]